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Nyéléni 2007

The Struggle of US Farmers at the Forum on Food Sovereignty

Radio Mundo Real coverage at Selingué

Tuesday 27 February 2007, by maitreuweb

Immigrant workers are a great part of the labor force in the United
States. Although there are no exact figures, it is estimated that 80%
of the workers in the farming sector are foreigners. This makes the
agriculture sector special. The farmers work under insecure conditions
and it is hard for them to form trade unions.

Tirso Moreno, general coordinator of the Farmerworker Association of
Florida said "There are two things that make their unionization
difficult, one of them is their condition of undocumented workers,
their concern of being dismissed or not having access to public
utilities; and the second one is that in most US states they are not
entitled to form trade unions and are therefore deprived of the right
to be members of a trade union".

However, despite all this, immigrant workers have organized and
obtained important victories, for instance milk farmers in the state
of Oregon.

Erik Nicholson, a member of United Farm Workers of America told Real
World Radio: "We’ve successfully organized one of the world’s largest
milk farms, with around 55,000 cows. The workers took the chance
because the company could have given the excuse that they have no
legal papers in order to kick them out. But as a result of the
pressure and support from the community and within companies that buy
the product, we’ve managed to successfully organize this milk farm and
now these workers are about to earn better salaries and have more
benefits than any milk farm could give in the US".

Moreno underscored the support of all the society to the struggle of
the farmworkers, by putting pressure or as consumers or in their work
with community organizations.

Moreno also explained that this year there will be a massive protest
on May 1st, with a general strike and a day of "non consumption". The
reasons for this are the same that led to the 2006 demonstration,
where thousands of people rejected a bill against immigrants. They
demand a fair immigration law.